The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times is now online here. Topline voting intention figures are CON 32%, LAB 39%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 11%, giving Labour a seven point lead that’s in line with YouGov’s recent averages.

The Labour party maintain their traditional lead on the issue of the NHS, they are trusted by 29% to the Conservatives’ 19%. Asked more specifically about issues of patient care and NHS finances, Labour also have a ten point lead on NHS patient care (31% to 21% for the Tories), but a slightly lower lead on ensuring the NHS has sound finances and is value for money (27% to the Conservatives on 23%).

47% of people think the NHS has got worse under the coalition, with only 12% thinking it has improved. People’s perception of what happened to the NHS under Labour is somewhat better, but still negative – 43% think it got worse, compared to 22% better. Asked about cover-ups 41% of people think the last Labour government probably did cover up failings at hospitals for political reasons, 31% think they probably did not. However the main blame for failings in the NHS not being discovered earlier is placed not upon politicians, but upon hospital management.

There were also a couple of questions on compulsory plain packaging for cigarettes, still supported by 58% of people with 26% opposed. Asked why they thought the coalition delayed their proposals to introduce plain packaging 25% think it was for the quoted reasons of wanting more evidence it would work, 60% think they have been leant upon by the tobacco companies (though as I normally say on questions like this, on Cameron on gay marriage and Miliband on Trade Unions, I think it generally reflects a cynicism towards politicians’ motives rather than anything issue specific). Only 18% think it is acceptable for Lynton Crosby to advise the Conservative at the same time as he works for other commercial clients.

A general warning here, which I’ve made before, is to be careful about confusing support/oppose in polls with salience. Most people don’t notice most political news stories, especially rather insidery ones about the workings of government (and the people who are most likely to notice will have the most fixed political views). So if you ask people if they think that the PM’s advisor should be working for other companies too people say no… but if you ask people who Lynton Crosby is only 11% know who he is, what he does and something about him. Ask people what news stories they noticed this week cigarette plain packages, Lynton Crosby and so on don’t even show up (suggesting they must have got below 1.5%). Doesn’t mean it can’t be an issue of course, that it won’t get noticed if it has legs and Labour can keep it going past the impending firewall of the royal baby (there are questions on that to in the poll if you can bring yourself to care), but that’s not necessarily an easy thing to do!

People will answer polling questions if asked (they’re helpful like that!)… but remember it doesn’t mean they necessarily had an opinion before the pollster forced them to have one, nor that they were even aware of the story.


145 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 32, LAB 39, LD 10, UKIP 11”

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  1. AW, you’re very dismissive of our latest heir to the throne ;)

    We’re back in polldrums, but at least there are some interesting stories happening. I do wonder how much mileage Labour can get out of Crosby pre-baby, and also whether the baby will affects VI – a feelgood factor for some? Or are the really big monarchists already likely to vote Tory?

  2. MrNameless – doubt very much there would be any baby effect. Nice weather is more likely to produce a feelgood factor!

    Olympics, Jubilee, Royal wedding in recent years didn’t really produce any feelgood thing large enough for us to even be confident they existed beyond margin of error, so I wouldn’t expect anything.

  3. There will be a little surge in royal baby paraphernalia, but it will a short period after the birth…celebrating the birth of course

  4. Some really interesting questions in that poll –

    On the questions about the monarchy, responses are pretty much level across the parties. One difference is that UKIP voters are much less favourable of William going on paternity leave (I have no idea why).

    Labour voters don’t want them to hire a nanny, the others parties have at least a plurality supporting that. But UKIP voters are pretty lukewarm to it, with should and should not being evenly divided. I suspect this is a wealth thing – UKIP and Labour voters tend to be poorer than Con and LD voters so might be more disdainful of those hiring nannies? Who knows.

    Odd that Gove proposes universal free school meals, since Tories are most opposed to it. Does anyone know how much it would cost? I think if he can’t get it through and it’s popular enough with parents(and even those opposed would probably appreciate the food savings) then Labour should probably adopt it as a policy.

    Seems odd to me that 18-24 are weighted up nearly 100%. I would have thought they’d be reduced since they never vote.

  5. MrNameLess – only voting intention questions are weighted according to likelihood to vote, pollsters weight other questions to match the population regardless of their likelihood to vote.

    (In the case of YouGov, of course, they don’t even weight voting intention according to likelihood to vote, but other companies do!)

  6. Public opinion re the political parties seem to be carved in stone, difficult to see what is going to shift voting intentions. Looks like another Coalition post 2015, who will be the largest party the only thing to exercise the little grey cells.

  7. I actually think we might see a minority government. The Liberal Democrats are probably a bit frightened of coalitions by now.

  8. “Asked about cover-ups 41% of people think the last Labour government probably did cover up failings at hospitals for political reasons, 31% think they probably did not”
    ___

    Who would had thought it?

  9. AW

    I think YG made a mistake with their question on page 6 about the Keogh report.

    “Who do you think is most to blame for the
    failings in the NHS uncovered by the Keogh
    report not being found earlier?”

    Why did YG not list the possible answer of ‘ The current coaltion government’. Instead they entered the last Labour government, which to me made the question not very neutral politically.

    The Keogh report looked at issues in the NHS during the period 2010-2012 and in the report you will see that they found many issues which needed urgent actions to be undertaken. Some of these issues concerned current under-staffing.

    This site is run by you and is independent of YG, so I don’t expect you to comment about any mistakes made by YG. But why do you think any pollster would not have included the current coalition government in any such question.

  10. @ ALLAN CHRISTIE

    “47% of people think the NHS has got worse under the coalition, with only 12% thinking it has improved.”
    —–

    Who would have thought it?

  11. I cannot see a coalition or minority government post 2015, not on current voting intention…

  12. norbold

    @ ALLAN CHRISTIE

    “47% of people think the NHS has got worse under the coalition, with only 12% thinking it has improved.”
    —–

    Who would have thought it?
    ______

    Probably most people in England but living in Scotland our NHS is doing just fine..Wink wink!!

  13. I was telephone polled earlier in the year – I didn’t recognise the name of the polling outfit, and sadly can’t remember it now.

    The questions were quite detailed – half related specifically to my Con/Lab marginal constituency, the MP and the Labour candidate for 2015, VI, plus a few questions of the “this statement relates most to party x” variety. All other questions were about smoking/nanny-statism/plain packaging for cigarettes etc, with some explanatory prefacing about Australian policies and so on.

    I’d conclude that if there has been lobbying to change goverment policy, then polling evidence was produced in attempt to show that this issue did have some salience with the 15-30% of adult smokers in marginal constituencies.

  14. NORBOLD

    Now now you could had the decency to post the remainder of your comment but I’ll do it for you.
    ..
    People’s perception of what happened to the NHS under Labour is somewhat better, but still negative – 43% think it got worse, compared to 22% better”
    ____

    Hardly a resounding endorsement.

  15. Jim,

    Me neither. I just think that if things change drastically, a minority government is more likely than a coalition!

  16. @R Huckle

    I’ll try…

    The Govt in 2012 instituted an inquiry into practice between 2010 (when it came to power) and 2012 (when the inquiry starts work) and published the results in H1 2013.

    There could be an argument that there may be issues which only started to arise in 2011 (the first year in which this Government’s policies had an effect), in which case detection in 2012 and publication in 2013 is fairly timely, at least by the standards of government generally.

    But most of the issues identified and causing concern – poor ‘out-of-hours’ care, death rate variabilities, failures of basic care for the elderly – are longer-term.

    Hence the question would be meaningless…

    I think what you are getting at is that there are issues identified in this report which have arisen due to Govt. policy an which critics predicted would arise – a fair criticism in my personal view, but one of ignoring good advice rather than failure to identify issues.

  17. @ R Huckle, Allan Christie

    Reporters overheard Keogh apologising to Andy Burnham about the way Keogh’s report had been used as an excuse to attack AB & Labour’s record on the NHS.

    You can read about it in the Guardian but they have chosen to use a very partisan ‘name’ for their link, so I cannot post the link for you because it will be moderated.

  18. @ bigfatron

    Andy Burnham as health secretary for Labour did start taking measurers and I think 5 out of the 14 Hospitals were under review already. So it could be argued that the last Labour government had already started to take reports of lack of care and management failings seriously.

    Whether they did enough is a fair question. I think that Labour did not want to launch public type inquiries into NHS Hospitals because there was a risk of damaging morale within the NHS overall and also damaging public confidence in the NHS. So instead they were working on a continual basis with all the relevant bodies, to resolve the issues.

    The problem with having an open public debate about these issues, is that it becomes a political football and the NHS is damaged as a result. The Keogh review looked into 14 Hospitals and in 2 years you can guarantee that there will be 14 other Hospitals found that have issues that need fixing. It will always be an ongoing matter, as Hospitals are dealing with hundreds of thousands of patients and there will always be failures, due to human mistakes, bad management etc.

    I think YG should have included the coalition government in the question, as the Keogh report covered current issues and not just issues that may have occured/started before May 2010.

  19. @RAF (FPT) – “The apostrophe was used correctly. The disaster lay in the preponderance of inappropriate commas, for which I rightly blame my phone!”

    I’ve yellow carded myself! Of course I meant comma’s! What was I thinking?

    On the polls – again, we have YG as being the only pollster to score Cons above 31%, apart from a single and slightly shocking ICM poll.

    There is also a very interesting story in the Guardian today regarding the reactions of Keogh to the political campaign around his report. He has personally apologised to Andy Burnham, who has told him in return that he has nothing to apologise for and that it is a good report, and Keogh has told friends that he is ‘furious’ about the way his report has been misquoted and misused.

    I think these polls may show that the Tory part of the government have in part got something that they thought they wanted from this exercise, but at the same time, I do wonder whether they have also lost something in return?

    All governments spin and distort for their own ends, but there is a developing pattern. I may be wrong, but I can’t recall so many instances during the period of the last government where authors of reports or official government statisticians have had to publicly correct ministerial statements over the incorrect use of statistics.

    This hasn’t affected the Lib Dem part of the coalition, as it has been exclusively Tory ministers being found guilty of what are basically gross distortions. Over time, I can’t help thinking that this will work against them, as credibility has to be protected. It’s more important that the 48 hour news cycle, and much more difficult to restore once lost.

  20. @ Amber star

    This is the Guardian report if it does not go into mod. It is for people to read and not get into a partisan debate.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jul/20/keogh-apology-burnham-tory-smear-hospital-deaths

  21. People’s perception of what happened to the NHS under Labour is somewhat better, but still negative – 43% think it got worse, compared to 22% better”
    —–
    There are not many stand alone polls on the NHS but one from Com Res did appear in Conservative Home.

    Which said only 22%thought the NHS was safe in Conservative Hands against 54% who though it wasn’t.

    A Poll back in 2007 suggested that only 37% of the Public thought the NHS had got better under Labour despite the demonstrable substantial improvement in Clinical Outcomes between 1997 and 2007

  22. Huckle I normally end up moderated by Anthony any way but this is what Sir Bruce is reported to have said

    NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh is said to be furious about the Conservative ‘political operation’ concerning his report into deaths at hospital trusts.

    The medical director of the NHS, Sir Bruce Keogh, has privately apologised to the shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, over the Tories’ “political operation” to use his report into the death rates at 14 hospital trusts as an attack on Labour’s record.

    Keogh told Burnham that he was sorry about the smear campaign led by Conservative MPs and officials in the days immediately before and after publication of his report.

    It is understood that Keogh was furious that his findings had been used to blame Labour for the unnecessary deaths of 13,000 patients, a figure that he did not recognise. Keogh was overheard apologising to Burnham, the former Labour health secretary at the centre of the attacks, when the two men were at government offices on Millbank, where the Sky and BBC political teams are based.

    A source at the offices said Keogh told Burnham, “Andy, I’m so sorry”, and appeared to show his disgust at what Keogh described as a “political operation”. Burnham was overheard insisting that Keogh had “nothing to apologise for”, adding: “It’s a good report.”

    Burnham, who prime minister David Cameron called on Labour leader Ed Miliband to sack over the findings in the Keogh report, declined to comment on “a private conversation”. An NHS spokesman said Keogh had been called away on family business and was not contactable.

    However, an email exchange between Keogh and an unnamed individual, who criticised newspaper reports claiming that the review had found 13,000 unnecessary deaths, reveals something of the NHS boss’s thinking. Keogh wrote: “I agree with your sentiments entirely. Not my calculations, not my views. Don’t believe everything you read, particularly in some newspapers.”

  23. @Bigfatron – “But most of the issues identified and causing concern – poor ‘out-of-hours’ care, death rate variabilities, failures of basic care for the elderly – are longer-term.”

    Just for the record, some of the biggest issues aren’t long term. The A&E issue, which is fast becoming a new NHS crisis, has arising almost entirely since 2010, and is linked directly to the replacement of the old NHS Direct service, which worked well, with the new 111 helpline, which has been very poorly rolled out in many areas. The new government took on a system that was functioning well, and replaced it with something that has failed in many parts of the country.

    Underneath this is the issue of rising hospital admissions, which the coalition have tried to blame on changes to out of hours care ten years ago, but this explanation has been rejected by NHS professionals and independent observers like the Kings Fund, who say that the 111 changes and cuts to non NHS care budgets are far more significant.

    @RHuckle – it’s worth recalling that the Mid Staffs issue was identified by Andy Burnham who initiated the first Francis report while he was in office. This wasn’t a full public inquiry, but was always intended to be conducted in the open and published.

    The idea that there was any cover up by Labour is really pretty risible.

  24. I sense by looking through the papers a notion of increasing confidence by the Tories and their supporters towards 2015. They’ve had an ok few weeks with good figures on economy, crime and labour ‘troubles’ over the unions transferring not a great time for labour. That being said the Tories opinion poll ratings have hardly budged with labour support dropping a touch to lib Dems and others – this confidence will soon sap again if Tory numbers don’t improve. There seems to be a lot banking on the economy for 2015 and although positive signs, the standard of living and size of the economy will be down on 2010 levels according to all projections – so it won’t necessarily be a great card to promote.

  25. I’ve repeatedly asked people not to play “bad for the other party show-and-tell”. For a while I even moderated links to the Guardian it was so prevalent. They encourage exactly the sort of comments I need to moderate further down the line.

    As I’ve hinted for the last week, I’ll asked people nicely all week to post in the spirit of non-partisanship, and most people have responded admirably. There has been a big increase in comments that are actually about polling and public opinion, rather than attacking other parties, arguing about govt policy or arguing about each other’s political views.

    There are a few who continue to post as if they are little party spokespeople* (or perhaps worse, who seem to view the comments policy as a challenge “how much partisan guff can I slip past the comments policy?” – there’s a reason why the policy asks for the *spirit* of non-partisanship), and if they don’t improve this week those people will be going on a long period of pre-moderation. This is the last friendly warning.

    (*”I can’t see anyone posting like that Anthony” you might be thinking. Well, no, you probably can’t because I’m moderating those comments out)

  26. Not much of a surprise that Lynton Crosby is barely an issue for the electorate, at the moment. He could yet become one – depending on the outcome of a current legal process concerning a certain previous adviser of the PM. The story would die if that legal process lead to nought.

    (Sorry to be so circumspect, but I’ve recently been banned from LabourList for what I considered to be quite innocuous remarks about recent events in Falkirk and I’m trying to avoid anything actionable!)

  27. @ Alec

    I agree that Labour did not try to cover up any failings in the NHS. But some could argue that they could have done more to answer questions being raised. There were allegations made that complaints went unanswered.

    I have long believed that each NHS Hospital trust needs to have more public accountability built into the way they operate. The same could be said about local council authorities and any other body that uses taxpayers money.

  28. AMBER STAR

    I read the article and if I’m being honest then I don’t think Labour or the Tories are great ambassadors for the NHS but that said (according to the polls) Labour are marginally trusted more on the NHS.

  29. Does anyone think the Tories might go for an early election? Maybe even the Autumn? The seem to be in election campaigning mode.

  30. AW

    “(*”I can’t see anyone posting like that Anthony” you might be thinking. Well, no, you probably can’t because I’m moderating those comments out)”
    _____

    Not seen [ahem – don’t troll] about for a bit so it must be working.

  31. couper2802

    “Does anyone think the Tories might go for an early election? Maybe even the Autumn? The seem to be in election campaigning mode”
    ____

    Don’t think so unless the polls have a huge turn around and the economic outlook vastly improves.

  32. @Mr Wells

    Oops. I hope my last comment doesn’t look like an attempt to deliberately play “show and tell” to spite you. It wasn’t intended that way – I started composing my remark in my usual laborious way, well before yours had been posted, I think (or maybe I just hadn’t read it).

    Anyway, it’s your call. I am in support of your policy, even if applied to me.

    PS. I suppose that you also moderate “good for Government” as well as “bad for Government” (ditto “for Oppostion”) “show and tell” as well, but it would be best to make that explicit, or you will be accused of partisanship!

  33. couper2802

    They can’t even if they want to. Well, theoretically they could bring a motion of confidence and whip their MPs into voting against the government, but that would be utterly weird.

  34. AW

    “[ahem – don’t troll]”

    It was just an observation but point taken. ):

  35. @ AW

    “For a while I even moderated links to the Guardian it was so prevalent. They encourage exactly the sort of comments I need to moderate further down the line.”

    Most of the media is dominated by right of centre reporting/commentary. People use links to Guardian, as they are more neutral and not pro-Labour.

    People are not stupid. They know when politicians spin current affairs issues in a certain way to the benefit of their own party and to damage the opposition parties.

    In the polls that YG conduct they ask questions about current affairs issues and from these it is not often discernable whether they actually make any difference to VI figures.

    I think I have been pretty neutral in my comments on this thread and have not crept into any debate in a partisan way. But you cannot have a discussion on polling and how this is affected, without going into some of the current affairs issues that may be relevant.

  36. @ Anthony Wells

    Is there any chance of commenting on the misleading, factually incorrect question about the Keogh report? It was an equivalent of: “knowing what we know about Hillsborough and the reporting in a particular newspaper would you believe anything written in that newspaper and if so how do you erease it from your mind?”

  37. @Allan Christie, Couper

    I doubt that an election this autumn is really on the cards, even if the “fixed term” parliamentary hoops can be jumped, jumping them politically is probably rather more difficult – ie it’s generally thought that the electorate don’t like being called to the polls with insufficient reason. A temporary lead in the polls looks insufficient, and at the moment they haven’t even got that.

    An early election next year would be possible if Labour continues to lose VI. I’d say it was “probable” in that scenario, were it not for the Euro-elections in may giving UKIP a showcase at the same time. He’d have to go well before May 22nd. What happens after the Euros is anyone’s guess. Mine is that by Autumn, the fuss over Farage’s triumph won’t have died down enough for Cameron to gamble it.

    It’s always been my opinion that as soon as the election results were announced Cameron should have played to cut and run after a year or two, in the Wilsonian manner. Instead the threat of a “rainbow Coalition” bounced him into an agreement that hamstrung him.

    It was, I think, a question of personal advantage trumping party advantage. Had Mandelson’s “sack Gordon” coalition plan succeeded, the resulting government would almost certainly have collapsed within a couple of years, and a majority Conservative government would have been elected – possibly by a landslide. It would not have been headed by Cameron, of course.

  38. @Anthony – re the ‘spirit of non partisanship’ – is this a bit like the spirit of cricket?

    Could we have a third umpire? Decision Review System? Hotspot and Snicko?

    In the old days, partisan posters would walk, but not now – it’s the modern game….

  39. It might be dangerous for Cameron to call an election which would fall on the day of the European elections. Simply for the reason that European UKIP voters might think they may as well put them down for Westminster too.

    We’ll see how long four-party politics lasts. Namely because the unsustainability of it was exactly why the SDP blew up after being beaten by the Loonies.

  40. I thought DC couldn’t call an election – he’s introduced fixed term parliaments surely?

    On cricket – the summer seems to have lost it’s edge now, with the complete lack of fight in the Australian cricket team.

    I’m finding the proceedings somewhat distasteful – like watching someone drown kittens. The fun seems to have gone out of it.

  41. @ Anthony

    The YG question is (unusually for YG) rather partisan.

    IMO partisan polling is on the increase (do you disagree?). And partisan polling is being used by some Parties & much of the media to support ‘attack & counter attack’ politics here in the UK.

    As we are polls & politics geeks, it is almost impossible to remain immune to this &, despite our best efforts, the prevailing polling & politics ‘climate’ will have some effect on our comments.

  42. There are ways around it. If two-thirds of MPs vote for an election, there will be one, which is not impossible if DC can convince some Labour MPs to vote for it. The coalition has 56% of MPs so they’d need Labour support.

    Secondly, if there’s a vote of no confidence which passes. Not likely to happen without open rebellion from Lib Dems, but it’s theoretically possible for a government to call an early election by whipping its MPs to vote for no confidence.

  43. How about the question: “The coalition reduced the spending on the health service by 7% (at least) in real terms since it came to power. Do you think the quality of health care declined Y/N? If yea, do you think it is mainly due to the coalition cuts and pixies; Labour government; health care professionals; foreigners (so that UKIP and BMP supporters could find their option).”

  44. @Alec

    “Like watching someone drown kittens” – presumably, given the feline threat to British wildlife, this is something that Greens have to turn a blind eye to.

    But yes, it’s much more fun watching them being beaten when they’re being “ocker”.

  45. Amber – you should take it as read that I never think any YouGov poll is partisan, or it wouldn’t have run! As you’ll know, I don’t see any point in debating individual questions, writing polling questions is an art not a science, they could always have been asked differently and if people want to see a question as partisan they’ll always find some reason to do so (and equally I try to ignore rather than criticise ropey questions elsewhere – let he who is without sin cast the first stone).

    Has partisan polling increased? Well, if you mean polls commissioned by pressure groups and parties to deliberately make their point look popular? No, I don’t. They’ve always been there (if anything, the BPC should make them rarer, since it’s now easy for journalists to find out what they actually asked and ignore obviously rubbish questions… and while you might not think so considering the crap that sometimes does make the papers, some journalists are very good at that.

    If you mean newspapers commissioning polls to get a particular angle. Well, in one sense, they really don’t do that at all. The journalists I’ve dealt with have never sought to skew wording – obviously there are results that will make a better headline… but if that’s not what the public think, that’s not what the public think. Nothing you can do about it. I think it’s also a case of them (a) being too busy to interfere with question and (b) having long standing relationships with pollsters they trust. For newspapers I tend to get “Anthony, can you find out what people do want most from the budget, would they prefer this or that, do they support this policy, do they think X should resign”… and I go and write a question that answers it and send them the results. Job done.

    In another sense, newspapers obviously do pick the subjects they poll on – for example, the People has thing about the bedroom tax, so commissions questions about the Bedroom Tax, the Guardian is probably more likely to commission questions about whether the cuts are damaging the country than another newspaper, the Sun wants to see fuel tax reduced, so will quite often ask about fuel duty before budgets (though the nature of the YG daily poll means we ask about pretty much *everything* anyway). Newspapers don’t skew the wording of surveys, but they do choose what they commission polls about and set the agenda that way… but then, given the newspapers ability to set the agenda anyway that may be the least concern.

    (As an aside, even newspapers have constraints. I was chatting to one of the political editors about the Guardian’s story on MI5 spying on other countries at conferences a few weeks back, and whether it actually was a story beyond “spies in spying shocker” and he said he thought it was a complete non-story, but the BBC had started running with it so they were obliged to cover it a bit. We are all wheels running within other wheels.)

    Where I do have a slight worry is the increasingly low entry bar to polling. I have great confidence in established firms like Ipsos MORI, ICM and Populus not to run ropey questions, and I hope that YouGov have a similar reputation (and yes, I’m sure people could pick out the occasional dud from all those firms, everyone has off days). I trust all their professionalism, the companies all trade on it, and would not want to risk their reputations. However, with the availability of panel providers you don’t need to have investment of your own panel to do an internet poll, the bar to setting up as a pollster really is very low – and if you’ve no reputation, what do you have to lose?

    Especially since outlandish results tend to get pickup.

  46. @ Postageincluded,
    ‘t’s always been my opinion that as soon as the election results were announced Cameron should have played to cut and run after a year or two’

    I am not persuaded that was ever an option – if Cameron had tried it the LibDems and Labour could have teamed up to block him by forming a Coalition likely to have a majority in the House of Commons.

  47. MAD lead at 7.2% (catching up with the polls). Labour lead over five polls of 6.6%. Definitely not polldrums, but hardly exciting either.

  48. @ Anthony

    Your reply was very interesting & almost amounted to an ATL article, so thank you! FWIW, I do believe that YG probably makes the fewest ‘errors’ when framing questions.

    I just want to add: perhaps partisan/ pressure group polling has not actually increased but the coverage surely has – due to the internet & 24 hour news TV – thereby giving the erroneous impression that the quantity of partisan polling has, itself, increased.

  49. @Graham

    A Lib-Con “confidence and supply” agreement, perhaps backed up by some other apparatus (as the LibLab pact in the late 70s was) could have held water for a while because the LDs couldn’t afford another election, both politically and financially.

    They also feared the electoral consequences of propping up another Labour government that the voters had rejected, so a LibLab Coalition needed to offer them a lot more than a Lib-Con one did, especially on PR – and in reality Labour couldn’t offer this (they couldn’t get half their MPs to support AV, let alone any enhancement). The LibLab idea was really a non-starter, but of course that didn’t stop the LDs for playing it to their advantage.

  50. @ Mr. Nameless

    Well, theoretically they could bring a motion of confidence and whip their MPs into voting against the government, but that would be utterly weird.

    Cameron has already asked himself an urgent question and allowed his own MPs to amend his Queen’s Speech, so I wouldn’t rule out any bizarre procedural contortions on the grounds of irregularity.

    However, I don’t see how Cameron can possibly go to the polls with the Tories fourteen points behind the level they would require to win an overall majority. If they can’t even pull off a plurality, his own career is over and for all he knows the party will be out of government for a generation. It’s very much in his interest to cling on for the remaining two years and pray for things to improve. Best case scenario, there’s another war with Argentina and he wins a majority in 2015. Worst case scenario, he gets two more years to sell stuff off to Bain Capital.

    Also, Ed Miliband’s buggered up Labour’s funding, which if Cameron’s very lucky may just kick in in time for the election.

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